Skindred at Tunbridge Wells Forum review

Formed in 1998 ,, Skindred are a heavy metal, reggae, alternative rock, punk band from Newport, who won the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards ‘Best Live Band’ in 2011.
They were the headline act at The Breakout Festival at Brighton’s racecourse last year, so I thought that it would be worth me going slightly ‘out of the area’ to see them when they played The Tunbridge Wells Forum. This was billed as their warm up gig before they commence their UK tour with Steel Panther and Brighton’s very own Lounge Kittens as support. Being such a small venue the event was virtually sold out the moment tickets went on sale, when it was first announced several months ago.

There was a little confusion on the night over the time that the doors were supposed to open as initially it was posted to be 7pm then 7:30 and then it was changed to 8pm. However by this time there was a nice crowd waiting patiently outside the venue ready to get the party started.

The support for this event was Bearfist a four piece band from Chelmsford Essex and they were on-stage at 8:30pm. They were a great warm-up act and did their best to get the crowd moving and removing their coats to join in the action; I have to say the room was still a little cold and it did take me a little while before I took my jumper off. There was a good crowd for the act but with still room to move around freely.

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The main act was on-stage at just after 9:30pm and came on to their usual opening music of AC/DC’s Thunderstruck. Benjii, the lead singer, then wound up an air-raid siren just to be sure to get our attention that Skindred were on stage and ready for action.

The Forum was now full up and the crowd packed in well with not a great deal of space to move around. The band opened up with ‘Kill The Power’ and swiftly moved onto ‘Doom Riff’, the crowd not holding back from the start with nearly everyone jumping with raised arms in time with the music.

The beat of their reggae styled music carried on throughout the evening with only small pauses for guitar changes when at this time Benjii addressed the audience with a bit of banter saying that their music was for all kinds on people…so why was he the only ‘black’ man in the audience in a way that only he can get away with these days. He said that the band liked playing at small venues like The Forum and we should all try to do more to get out and see more live music in venues like this as so many of the smaller venues are closing down these days.

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The final song of their nine song set list was ‘Nobody’ after which the band said their thank you and goodnights and left the stage. It wasn’t very long though before they were back for their encore of ‘Warning’ and the customary Skindred’s ‘Newport helicopter’. Benjii explained what he wanted the audience to do, with them raising their jumpers into the air and then on the count of four to swirl them around above their heads like a helicopter, he invited a lady from the front row onto the stage and asked her to do the countdown to start it off, after which the crowd went crazy.

Words by Robert Sutton
Images by Robert Sutton photography

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